Watch Live: NASA's Artemis I Moon Rocket Launch

Will this time be the charm? We'll find out soon.

Monisha Ravisetti Former Science Writer
Monisha Ravisetti was a science writer at CNET. She covered climate change, space rockets, mathematical puzzles, dinosaur bones, black holes, supernovas, and sometimes, the drama of philosophical thought experiments. Previously, she was a science reporter with a startup publication called The Academic Times, and before that, was an immunology researcher at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She graduated from New York University in 2018 with a B.A. in philosophy, physics and chemistry. When she's not at her desk, she's trying (and failing) to raise her online chess rating. Her favorite movies are Dunkirk and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
Monisha Ravisetti
4 min read
An orange-colored Artemis I moon rocket, with the white Orion spacecraft on top, is in the far ground. Skies are clear, pale blue and members of the media are setting up tripods in the foreground, facing the rocket.

On Nov. 14, members of the media set up cameras as NASA's Artemis I rocket rests on launch pad 39B.

Getty Images

NASA launched the Artemis I mission on Wednesday morning. You can read about that here. What follows below is the original story. 

NASA's ambitious, expensive and intricate moon rocket, Artemis I, has had a rough run

NASA scrubbed the craft's first launch attempt in late August due to a troublesome engine issue. On the second attempt a few days later, a pesky hydrogen leak kept it grounded. The third attempt got nixed in late September as Hurricane Ian threatened Artemis I's launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Hurricane Ian even ruined the agency's backup launch date of Oct. 2 because the storm forced NASA to roll the tangerine machine off the launchpad and back to safety in the Vehicle Assembly Building. The agency finally announced a new launch date of Nov. 14. And thenas if Artemis I hadn't already been through enough, Hurricane Nicole blew in last week.

The rocket wasn't rolled off the launchpad this time. But that decision jeopardized the launch timeline one more time because it meant Artemis I had to battle incredibly high winds it wasn't quite built to withstand. Thankfully, only minor repairs were necessary to get the rocket back into shape. 

And here we are. 

"So when will this cursed thing launch?" you might've been asking. Well, it could happen as soon as Wednesday.

To be clear, this mission doesn't have astronauts on board. There's a lot riding on its success, though, including the prospect of landing people on the moon sometime in the near future. (That's planned for 2025.) 

At launch, Artemis I's 32-story rocket blasted off from Earth and propel a relatively small white spacecraft named Orion into lunar orbit. Orion is filled to the brim with objects like Amazon Alexa, TV character Shaun the Sheep, mannequins, miniature satellites and most importantly, tons of navigation and data collection equipment. 

These instruments will track vital information about the spacecraft's trajectory, safety, radiation absorption and much more that'll essentially map out the routes of future missions -- missions with a human crew like Artemis II and 2025's Artemis III. 

Think of Artemis I as a crucial flight test and proof-of-principle experiment for a very expensive project.

A flawless launch could mark the beginning of NASA's modern moon exploration years. It's going to be a tense few hours with a nail-biting countdown, especially considering the rollercoaster ride that is Artemis, but one also surrounded by an air of wonder and excitement. In other words, it's going to be huge. 

Artemis I rocket and Orion capsule on the launchpad. In the foreground, a banner says "We are going!".

The "We Are Going" banner, seen near the Artemis I rocket on the launchpad, is signed by NASA workers involved in the moon mission.

Joel Kowsky/NASA

How to watch the Artemis I launch

On Nov. 16 1:04 a.m. ET/Nov. 15 at 10:04 p.m. PT, you'll be able to tune into the show on the NASA app, NASA website or NASA TV directly. Here's that time around the world.

  • Brazil: Nov. 16 3:04 a.m. (Federal District)
  • United Kingdom: Nov. 16 6:04 a.m.
  • South Africa: Nov. 16 8:04 a.m.
  • Russia: Nov. 16 9:04 a.m. (Moscow)
  • United Arab Emirates: Nov. 16 10:04 a.m.
  • India: Nov. 16 11:34 a.m.
  • China: Nov. 16 2:04 p.m.
  • Japan: Nov. 16 3:04 p.m.
  • Australia: Nov. 16 5:04 p.m. (AEDT)

You'll also find all the action live on CNET Highlights, our YouTube channel, by simply clicking Play below.

Artemis I's launch sequence

If you're into the technical details, here's the game plan for Artemis I

In a way, liftoff is the easiest part. And I'm not exaggerating. 

Team SLS is up first. 

After countdown, the SLS will ascend through Earth's atmosphere. In two minutes, all its solid propellant, located in the rocket's boosters, will be consumed and those boosters will be jettisoned. After 8 minutes, all its liquid fuel, located in the core stage, will be used and that stage will be jettisoned. Then, for about the next 18 minutes, Orion and the rocket's upper stage will take a lap around our planet all alone. Once that's complete, Orion will take about 12 minutes to deploy its solar arrays and get off battery power.

At that point, as Sarafin puts it, the rocket has done its job. Orion is en route.

This diagram shows the stages at which the SLS rocket's stages will jettison off and Orion will propel forward during ascent.

A diagram showing what Artemis I's ascent will look like. 

NASA; screenshot by Monisha Ravisetti/CNET

Team Orion steps up to the plate. 

"There's really no time to catch our breath," Rick LaBrode, lead Artemis I flight director, said during an Aug. 5 press conference. Orion's trajectory pretty much relies of a multitude of precise maneuvering that'll take it along the complex path outlined below. 

A diagram showing how Orion will fly to the moon, around the moon and back. Several gravity assists are present during the journey and some checkpoints are outlined where translunar injections and departures will occur.

Orion's trajectory around the moon and back is outlined here. Along the way, 10 cubesats will be deployed. 

NASA; screenshot by Monisha Ravisetti/CNET

Eventually, the craft will approach the lunar surface, getting as close as just 60 miles above ground, and conduct a bunch of science experiments to test things like lunar gravity, radiation danger, and maybe even snap a few pics like a re-creation of 1968's Earthrise. The satellites inside Orion will deploy along the way, capture some physics data, and once all is said and done, the brave little spacecraft will return to our planet and splashdown off the coast of San Diego.

Pick up Orion, extract the data and Artemis I is complete. The whole thing is expected to take six weeks.

If NASA manages to avoid any blips along the way, it won't be long before we find ourselves scouring the internet for info on how to watch the launch of Artemis II. And far into the future, perhaps we'll reflect on this day as we sit back and watch a rocket barrel toward not just the moon, but Mars.

OK, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

For now, the goal is a flawless liftoff for Artemis I, something that seems to get harder by the day.